Local Current Blog

Slideshow: Low at Rock The Garden

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Alan Sparhawk MPR Photo / Nate Ryan

Low left many of the fans of Rock the Garden puzzled by their one-song set, consisting entirely of “Do You Know How to Waltz?” The performance was lumbering, droning and… divisive.

Slideshow: Metric at Rock the Garden

Slideshow: Silversun Pickups at Rock the Garden

Slideshow: Bob Mould at Rock the Garden

Slideshow: Dan Deacon rocks the underground garage

Slideshow: Scenes from Rock the Garden

Andrea Swensson’s set-by-set Rock the Garden recap

7 Photos

  • Alan Sparhawk
    Alan Sparhawk of Low MPR Photo / Nate Ryan
  • Alan Sparhawk of Low
    Low perform at Rock the Garden. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Steve Garrington
    Steve Garrington of Low MPR Photo / Nate Ryan
  • Barb Abney and David Campbell
    David Campbell and Barb Abney introduce Low MPR Photo / Nate Ryan
  • Rock The Garden
    Alan Sparhawk of Low MPR Photo / Nate Ryan
  • Low at Rock the Garden
    MPR photo / Nate Ryan
  • Steve Garrington
    Steve Garrington of Low at Rock the Garden MPR Photo / Nate Ryan

View 6 More Photos

  • Ben

    Wow Low—terrible. I am really upset that Low wasted all of our time and money for one 30 min awful guitar cord and a stupid non-controversial political statement. I have lost all respect for Low and my respect for Rock the Garden went down a notch—there is no “artful” excuse or musical allowance here–if any of us did this at our job- we would be fired-no excuse.

  • Jack Paar

    It was the first time I saw Low and the last time I will ever see them. WTF was that??

  • Jack Paar

    What a painful performance out of Low. Next time I go to Rock the Garden I will be sure to bring ear plugs. What the heck was that? That was not music or art.

    • Matthew St-Germain

      Lizzie Borden is definitely art, though. Stick to being a child actor.

    • Lazy Drone

      you should always bring ear-plus. Hearing damage is serious and irreversible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zetes.johnson Zetes Johnson

    Yeah, this performance wasn’t divisive at all – everyone was totally pissed. The Current needs to stop defending these assholes, because there was no excuse for what they did. They should have cut off their sound a quarter of the way through and brought Dan Deacon, whose set got cut short by the rain (and whom many people didn’t even get to see), back out. I really liked Low’s latest album, but the disdain they show for their fans and those who hired them to play this show should get them banned from the city and from the radio in the forseeable future.

  • Sue C.

    Yeah, the way they refused to even acknowledge the crowd just added to the ghastly performance. I thought it was pretentious and after about 15 minutes of it, we left to walk around (but unfortunately never out of earshot)

    • Matthew St-Germain

      You clearly have never seen Low live before. They are, at best, uncomfortable up there. They are quiet, contemplative folks. But, oh, the “pretentious” barb is rich! Especially for a music fest at The Walker Art Center.

      • Sue C.

        If they’re so uncomfortable and owe us nothing, as suggested in another comment, why did they accept this gig? Quiet and contemplative is one thing, palpable disdain for the audience is another.

        • Joshua Moreland

          Except that quiet and contemplative wasn’t acceptable either. People were talking through it from the moment they started. I would have left after one song too. Seems like people think the artist owe them yet they showed not the slightest courtesy themselves.

          • Sue C.

            It’s an outdoor, day-long rock concert, not a film in a quiet theater. Had people been shouting, booing or heckling, I would consider that inappropriate. You honestly think they could hear people talking over their “drone?” My complaint is that their performance wasn’t appropriate for a ROCK the garden event. People feel the artist owes them, perhaps, because they paid good money for a performance.

          • Joshua Moreland

            I know. I went to music festival to listen to music, not listen to people loudly telling everybody “I’m tweeting how shitty this band is right now!” F@*# me, right?

          • Sue C.

            How come you didn’t just walk away from the annoying tweeters?

          • Joshua Moreland

            All of them? Where would you have me go, Bemidji? I was trying to relax on my soaking wet blanket and listen to the music.

          • Matthew St-Germain

            Ah, you are actually taking the title of the thing literally. Everything Must Rock! Well, there’s your problem. Every band, evidently, must play music in the style of the festival’s title. I believe that’s in the contract, no? Man, that sounds adventurous and exciting!

            Anyway, really dumb arguments aside, your final line just makes it clear you are a consumer, and nothing more. You create nothing. To extrapolate your argument out, if you went to go see the Twins play, and they were shut-out, would you sit there incredulous, claiming the Twins should be kicked out of the state, never allowed to play another game in Target Field, blah blah blah blah? You don’t go to a game expecting your team to win 165 games. Neither do you go to a music festival, at one of the most cutting edge art gallery’s in the midwest, and expect to sit there and hear Nickleback after Nickelback after Nickelback.

            You should be expecting to be challenged. That this is shocking to you would pretty clearly argue that this is exactly what happened, and that you don’t get it would indicate you’ve a bit of questioning of your own assumptions to do. Or you know, keep living in the lie that everything is owed to you and 100% of a festival must be totally tailored to your insufferably limited musical tastes, because you plopped down some money and goddamnit, you’re a fucking American.

            You are the reason some species eat their own young.

        • Matthew St-Germain

          No artist owes the audience anything. This is a perverted, over-privileged conception of the artistic relationship, conceived of by people who create nothing artistic. You are there to see the art, whatever that may be. If they had just sat on stage and done nothing, it’s still art. They did not do this, however. They played a track off of 1996’s The Curtain Hits The Cast, which is a fully realized, written-out song. That you don’t have the ability to recognize this as music is your own problem, and simply shows your limited breadth of musical taste. It’s cool. I’m sure Bennigan’s is also a real culinary taste adventure for you, as well.

          • Sue C.

            Ah, the descent into insults and name-calling when someone doesn’t agree with you. The accusation that someone doesn’t “get it” when they disagree with you. Bottom line, I understood it. I disliked it.

          • Matthew St-Germain

            Good. Hopefully you’ll be able to go on with your life, now.

          • Sue C.

            And you as well.

          • Matthew St-Germain

            I accept your apology.

          • Sue C.

            unsubscribe.

            It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
            but often the shadow seems more real than the body ~ Tomas Transtromer

  • Mike Green

    You know why didn’t they sign the Prissy Clerks instead of Low? would of been a hell of a lot better!! CLERKS NEXT YEAR!!!!

    • Matthew St-Germain

      We’re all waiting for you to answer the question you posited.

  • victoria s

    Absolutely terrible. Worst Rock the Garden yet. Besides Deacon’s amazing makeshift garage performance, it really blew. Hey MPR! LISTEN to what your paying listeners want. I’m so sick of mom music. Play some more raw folk, electrifying electronica, foot pounding blue grass, and some shwanky midbeats. We will pay more if you deliver! Don’t short change us for your lack of trust and respect.

    • B.

      While I did have a good time, Silversun Pick Ups were awesome, i have to agree with the use of the term “mom music” for this one. Never thought of it before, but Low, Bob Mould, and Metric certainly fall under that umbrella. I found humor in that. Again, I want to say I had a great time, thank you 89.3, and thank you Sarah Negahdari, you were the epitome of cute up there. Oh and Low, you suck.

      • Matthew St-Germain

        4 out of 5 moms today listen to Metal Machine Music, evidently.

    • Matthew St-Germain

      What’s interesting, Victoria, is that the way you describe the music you want is exactly how the moms you disparage would go about doing it. Projection is the new Black.

    • Andy

      What is “mom music”? My mom, likes Yanni and Kenny G, but I don’t think she’s ever been a big Bob Mould or Husker Du fan. Is “mom music” music made by mom’s? Or music from bands with women in them? Calling something “mom music” to disparage it seems silly at best and offensive at worst. But yes, always more swanky midbeats!

  • Andy

    I thought it was great. Low doesn’t owe anybody anything. And whether you think the statement is controversial or not, far too few with a voice and a platform actually make the statement.

    • http://www.facebook.com/zetes.johnson Zetes Johnson

      Um, yeah, they kind of do. We paid them to put on a show and they didn’t. They very do literally owe us.

      • Andy

        Oh, I must have missed that part of the contract when I got my tickets. Did it really say that the bearer of this ticket is owed a performance by Low that meets ticket buyers expectations?

        • Dave M

          The number one reason I bought tickets was to see Low. I am familiar with their music as own 6 albums. After that show I will never spend money on them again. What they did was obnoxious and I bet they wouldn’t try to pull the same stunt on their upcoming tour. If they had played at least one other song to make it a set that would have salvaged something.

          Droll not drone.

          • Matthew St-Germain

            Dear Fair Weather Fan. They’ve played this song before, and in fact, toured with it. I’m sure it won’t be the last time it happens. It’s on an album, which is clearly one of the six you do not own. Grow up.

          • Eric Boyer

            Dave, get over it.

          • Rob Del Medico

            I bet even your masturbation sessions are dull and pedantic.

        • http://www.facebook.com/zetes.johnson Zetes Johnson

          The expectation is that they play a certain amount of time, and presumably, you know, a couple of songs. I’m not sure it was specifically mentioned on my ticket (which I bought before Low was even announced), but on the marquee, yes, they were listed and, no, they did not play.

          • http://www.facebook.com/zetes.johnson Zetes Johnson

            Scratch that one part. This was the year they made us wait to buy tickets. Every other year I bought them before the bands were even announced.

          • Matthew St-Germain

            OMG! You poor thing! How’s your cholera holding up, btw?

          • Matthew St-Germain

            No. You’re wrong. The expectation is that a band plays what the hell it wants to play. It’s a snot-nosed, sanctimoniously obligated barf bag’s expectation that a band will play what he wants them to play. Which if you’ve ever been in a successful band, would know just how *incredibly annoying* that perspective is.

            As for it not being a song or them “not playing”, here’s another band that you probably don’t think of as artists, playing this exact song, with Low:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t_RcCOvhF0

            Low & Godspeed You Black Emperor: Do You Know How To Waltz?

            PS – Enjoy being lame.

          • Rob Del Medico

            You’re an idiot, dude. 27 minutes as the opener for a music festival is par for the course (hell, at some metal festivals they only get 20 minutes). And the expectation is that they play music, not a set level of songs. They played one of their originals, which was originally 12 minutes, and stretched it.
            Did you enjoy it? Sounds like you didn’t. But the band doesn’t owe you shit. Likewise, you don’t owe the band a repeat trip to their concert. See how this works? Good. BTW, you’re on your way to becoming a meme thanks to Current’s blog.

  • Andy Larson

    how shocking when a band chooses to play a song from one of their records at a show! I happen to find “do you know how to waltz” one of their most visceral and powerful songs— the long droning crescendo, it’s a beautiful thing. if your expectations of them as artists weren’t met, well, maybe YOUR expectations are the things that are wrong. if you’ve followed Low from the beginning, you know that this is an element of their music. get over yourselves.

    • Dave M

      Whatever. 1 song does not make a set. If people buy tickets to a festival with the expectation of hearing some of their work they shouldn’t get stiffed by hearing one extreme example and then bolting. I am actually one of the few people who enjoyed it for the first ten minutes. You are right they did not meet my expectations, because I’ve seen them before and they had a fantastic performance, but I was turned off enough by this performance that I will not support them again. They made their choice as artists and I’ve made mine as a patron.

      • Matthew St-Germain

        I’m sure they’re shattered. Dave M is out. As a famous man once said with skin:

        HOW MUCH ART CAN YOU HANDLE?

        The answer: A glass of warm milk.

  • blahblahblah

    i love low

  • Matthew St-Germain

    How shocking, a band playing an experimental song (off one of their first albums, no less) at an art gallery’s festival. Do You Know How To Waltz? is one of my favorite, all-time Low tracks. That they played this for you was an honor. The litany of complaints are likely coming from a whole host of idgits who likely have never even played on a stage, and if so, have an extremely limited understanding and grasp on musical diversity/vocabulary and don’t have even a cursory understanding or respect for experimental music. I repeat: YOU WERE AT AN ART GALLERY.

    However, this kind of reaction is nothing new and all it does is prove that each and every complainer has absolutely zero taste and experience with actual talent. Squares always react this way when presented with real art as music. Thankfully, none of you make curatorial decisions. All these comments are proof of is that Low is real punk music. Lou Reed, Crass, Velvet Underground, Royal Trux, Suicide, Sonic Youth, and the like, are all laughing at you. Sorry twats. At least you have another nonsense thing to complain about, at length, in your long line of first-world, self-created problems. Because what else do you create?

    Kudos, Low. I’m not the only one proud of your set and proud that you are a local group, representing the real shit, hard.

    • Randy Crouton

      Whatever, Instigator! All I need is The National, Band of Horses, and Mumfur Sons!

      • Matthew St-Germain

        They’ll all be at the Medina in 7 years. Buck up, lil trooper.

        • Randy Crouton

          Also Trampled By Turtles and Owl City

          • Matthew St-Germain

            I can smell the snoring from here.

    • Tony

      Really? You pulled the “…who likely have never even played on stage…” card? Let me get this straight: because I have never performed in front of an audience, I’m not allowed to offer an opinion as to the quality of a set? If that is a requisite for enjoying music, why even play for the public at all? Self-righteous arrogance at its finest.

      Even if the performance was offered as a one-off hat tip to their hardcore fans, you really have the audacity to call people out for thinking that it was lame? Whether in an attempt to be “artsy” (YOU WERE AT AN ART GALLERY) or as an F-U to the corporate sponsors, the fact is that they intentionally alienated well over half the crowd by choosing to do their set in this manner. And it was lame. Sorry to break it to you. Experimental does not always mean good.

      By bringing up all of those bands (especially Crass,) after offering up such holier than thou explanations is irony at its finest. But do please continue to offer your opinions, they are comedy gold.

      • Matthew St-Germain

        To your first part, 100%. Because you’ve never played on stage, you have no concept of creating art for an audience. You have no idea what it takes to make something. You definitely can have an opinion, but it really doesn’t mean much to anyone who would give two shits. You have no serviceable ability to attenuate quality because you make nothing and you clearly have a limited musical vocabulary. It’s like a guy who only eats McDonalds and can’t make a single meal for himself hitting up The Butcher & The Boar and complaining that there’s no burger on the menu, nor is there a handheld apple pie. Yes, you can have an opinion, but anyone who knows anything about anything would only find it a source of amusement that you’re complaining about your own limitations.

        To your second part, the audacity here is for the folks who were at an art gallery’s festival being in shock over the art they got. As my friend put it:

        pitpat
        6/17/13 1:05 PM

        what’s up with Picasso’s painting?
        people like that shit?
        you can’t even tell what he’s painting.

        I mean, it’s like thinking that all art needs to be scenes of ducks taking off, and then literally standing there, incredulous, that there’s a 20×15 painting up on the wall of clocks melting. “What the fuck is this, clocks are made of metal, that’s impossible!” The audacity is in thinking that your opinion has any value beyond highlighting that you simply don’t fucking get it, kid. It’s in you conceiving of rationals and assumptions behind their reasoning for playing a song live that they’ve likely played live a hundred times, that was on their third record, that GYBE found to be of such unwavering badassery that they asked to play it live with Low. But Tony from godknowsthefuckwhere is the person whom we should really be listening to, because he creates nothing, and therefor, is a damn expert on jack shit. And I’m the audacious one, here! It was no one-off, it was not done to piss people off, they are always uncomfortable looking on stage. See, all these things you would know were you an actual fan of Low and their music.

        As for the “alienation” part, it’s clear that these folks needed the “alienation.” Music is a wonderful swath of violently differing tastes and experiences. This was not 30 minutes of Whitehouse. This was not Costes urinating in a chick’s mouth who then spits it back in his. This was not Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock smashing their faces into plates of amplified spaghetti. Your version of “alienation” is so tame and white bread as to be beyond laughable. Yes, you needed this “alienation” because it’s far and away from what “alienation” really is. It’s fucking beautiful music, and you think art is a portrait of Dogs Playing Poker.

        “Experimental does not always mean good.” What a ground-breaking reality check. I’ve sat through some straight awful experimental performances, and I may even be guilty of performing them myself. But if this is your breaking point of “lame experimental music” my guess is that your experience with experimental music are the intro moments on a Radiohead record. This is another reason why yours is the wrong opinion. You, literally, have no reference point to go off of before. I’ve seen this reaction hundreds of times. All it means is that you just experienced something you’ve never heard before, and are having some serious cognitive dissonance, and having a generally normal, yet exquisitely lame reaction to it.

        While your second to last sentence makes absolutely no sense (all bands listed are amazing whilst also having a very long, experimental song in their oeuvres) you don’t need to tell me what I’m doing is comedy gold, I’m well aware that I’m picking low hanging fruit. Seriously, someone with some fucking real musical taste chime in and dissect this set and pronounce it DOA, because all I’m seeing are white nightmares who have never had their musical bell’s rung before. And that, in of itself, is a testament to how great this set was.

        • Tony

          Holy shit, I just got back to this. Did I touch a nerve? I sincerely appreciate your deep and spot on analysis of me, and how I have no concept of art. Again with the “I know more about everything than you because you don’t ‘get it'” self righteous bullshit. Look kiddo, just because I don’t play music does not mean I don’t understand what it is like to create something just for the sake of creation, and damn everyone else whether or not they like it. I wouldn’t have even gone to the show had I not been given a ticket, so no, I’m not on here whining about expectations and everything else. They are free to play whatever they want. It was you acting like a butt hurt douche to people who dared criticize the set that annoyed me. To be sure, many of the criticisms are misguided, but acting as though the deserve some sort of punk medal is a little silly. This wasn’t a DK “Pull My Strings” moment, just 27 minutes of boring. I honestly wanted to like them. Maybe next time. But anyways, good on you for assuming that because I don’t like a band you love that I know nothing about music or experimental performance. Enjoy your time up on that horse of yours. I’ll be down here with the rest of the plebs, striving to one day be as smart as you think you are.

          • Matthew St-Germain

            I accept your apology.

    • Joe Erjavec

      Matthew, reading your post reminded me to listen to some Crass when I got home. Good ol’ Crass…

  • Randy Crouton

    Low is a good band that I have no interest in listening to… pretty much ever. Actually, I enjoyed them when they played at the Minnesota Orchestra Hall a few years ago. Anyway, I think it’s really funny that they pranked Current lovers so hard! It’s definitely the most punk thing they’ve ever done, and for that, I applaud them. People who actually care about good music probably don’t listen to the Current or go to Rock the Garden unless they’re drunk or want to get drunk or like seeing babes. Understandable.

  • dessaFanBIGTIME!

    we need more dessa!

    • Randy Crouton

      agree!
      would love to hear dessa rock out more!

      • dessaFanBIGTIME!

        If the current really cared about their true DIE HARD fans, I’ve been a supporter, PLAY MORE DESSA!

        • Randy Crouton

          Wait is Dessa on the new Die Hard soundtrack?

  • Jeffrey Ehrhart

    Two words: Low blows

    • Matthew St-Germain

      Take it from Jeffrey Ehrhart, he’s literally the “go to guy” in the field of blowing.

      • vistam00n

        M St-G, we get it – you are thee art maven. and, opinions may differ. your rants won’t change the minds of people who would have liked to have heard a few more songs from Low’s catalog. it was an outdoor summer show, not Poe’s birthday. if Louis CK stood on a stage and smacked himself in the face with bologna for 30 minutes, would you defend that? perhaps the band just woke up late and didn’t rehearse. now, stop.posting.and.stop.posting.

        • Matthew St-Germain

          Rants? “Opinions may differ”? Excuse me, but I’m not the one who showed up to the comments section with a dirty diaper, exclaiming Low should be banned from The Current, the city, as well as showed be blown up by a drone attack. Feel free to say “hey, the set didn’t work for me.” That’s an opinion. When you go beyond this, it’s an attack, and a completely unwarranted one. You comparing a fully realized set of actual music to a comedian standing there with meat on his face is further proof that you are not expressing an opinion, but rather, are attacking a group of outstandingly talented and wonderful people, for art that you simply do not get. Make no mistake, I’ve dealt with your kind going on for near two decades now. I’ve had people who’ve trashed this kind of art years later come up and apologize for what they previously said, explaining now how they get it and that their musical and artistic vocabulary was just so narrow that what was previously presented had forced them to reconsider everything they thought about music. You’re going through this same thing. All of us do. I hated Harry Pussy and the Dead C. when I first heard them in 1995. Either you’ll choose to remain artistically (and holistically) stunted, or you’ll investigate further. But make no mistake about it, you’re being an asshole.

          • vistam00n

            lighten up your highness. 1) i was not at the show. 2) i listened to it live and enjoyed it. 3) i’ve been a Low fan for years and really like them – still do. there are still plenty of people who were at the show that did not appreciate the 1/2-hour dirge set. they do have ‘opinions’ and they differ from yours. your foul descent into insults exposes your lack of creativity. you really know art…but lack any real talent. now, it is time for you to go get your shine-box.

          • vistam00n

            i surrender to your withering bLows

          • Matthew St-Germain

            I accept your apology.

          • vistam00n

            let’s make up at the Hanson re-union

      • Jeffrey Ehrhart

        You’ve seen my balloon animals? I am flattered you think that highly of my work

  • Joshua Moreland

    You know who owes me? The people behind me who loudly talked through Low’s set with type of drivel listed below. I paid good money to listen to live music and you talk over it? You wouldn’t do that to someone who paid $8 bucks to see a movie why would you do that to me? They complained about Bob Mould too. They also talked about back in 2000 when Nickelback was good and how The Replacements suck. Honestly I don’t why you even showed up considering you left 5 minutes into Metrics set.

    • Joshua Moreland

      The song they played was very nice in my opinion. When it got loud enough to drown out the people behind us, it was a completely relaxing wall of sound that just took away all the tenseness the rain had put in my muscles. It’s fine if you if didn’t like it, just don’t take it out on me.

    • Jen Jones-Yerhot

      Amen! I had the exact same experience Joshua. Why did these people even come to the show. All the people did in front of us is drink and spill beer, take pictures of themselves doing that, and not giving a crap about the music. I still had a great time though.

  • michael Stratton

    When a group as big as low shows disdain for the regime, u know the petty tyrant in the white house is shaking in his golf shoes…teach/impeach!

  • Mitch Flattum

    Pretentious crap!

    • Matthew St-Germain

      I know, some might even say it was Flattumesque, but let’s not get that Low.

  • Joe Erjavec

    I wasn’t at the show, but I read the comments on Twitter Saturday. I love music festivals, and for me they are little slices of heaven from the cares and worries of the world. Regardless, I appreciate an artist who within that context says “Hey, this is screwed up. Look at what our nation, which is relatively free, is doing in the world.” Because I know that once I’m done with this small space of free time, I need or ought to face some of those ugly realities.

    It might not be enjoyable to listen to for most people, but as a piece of conceptual art and a statement, you folks were lucky. Fine, be pissy about it for a while, but think about it again in a couple of weeks.

    – A new Low fan, as of Saturday

  • Ann Meany

    For those of you that are complaining about Low: it’s Rock the Garden, not the Basilica Block Party. If you want to see artists that play all the bland, mainstream, canned stuff, find another music festival.

  • Chris Bacigalupo

    If a band cant do what they want at “home”, where can they? BTW, Low’s REAL home is 2.5 hours North of your “garden” so when you popster playlist slaves get fickle because Low doesn’t meet your “expectations”, move on to the next pop-dujour. Low will be fine without you, they know they have a warm, homegrown fire down on Park Point to circle around and be welcomed by the non-hip in Duluth.

    • Jen Jones-Yerhot

      Yep.

  • Henry James Smith

    I didn’t attend, but being a Low fan and owning all their albums, I may have been slightly upset by this just because they have so many good songs I’d like to hear live, but would have left gleaming. This is a fantastic piece of drone, and I really don’t think it was meant to be pretentious or prickish, I genuinely believe they wanted to make a tribute to die hard Low fans, and they certainly did. Not a good way to make friends, but a definitely entertaining.